The executive order of US President Joe Biden to begin the 30-day process to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord marks a symbolic return of the US to the fight against climate change, but the country still needs to deliver an ambitious new climate plan to comply with the Paris agreement, experts warn.
Biden signed off on the first day of his presidency on Wednesday 15 executive orders aimed at undoing much of his predecessor's legacy on policies that span the gamut from immigration to climate and health policy.
The order places the US on track to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, the landmark agreement aimed at rolling back carbon emissions that former President Donald Trump chose to unilaterally exit from in a process that was finalized on Nov. 4. The accord seeks to limit global warming and achieve a carbon-neutral world by 2050.
"The US federal government should align with the latest climate science and set an ambitious path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest and in the shorter-term, to halve emissions by 2030," Maria Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business coalition said.
Biden had signaled that he would announce a climate plan before COP26, which will take place in November in Glasgow.
Mendiluce said the new US administration could count on support and collaboration from US businesses, cities, states and institutions that have led on climate action by example over the past four years.
"Climate action is good for the US economy as it creates jobs, economic growth and shared prosperity. It will drive a new start for the country," she noted.
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organization focusing on environmental protection, the Biden administration needs to create a science-based policy for climate action.
The US should update its greenhouse gas emission reduction target and engage with international partners, it said.
"His administration should also lay the groundwork for a new policy to decarbonize the electricity sector, which accounts for 27% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting the Biden-Harris campaign’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 will require a wide-ranging portfolio of executive-level actions," the WRI said.
In addition to signing the executive order to rejoining the Paris Agreement, Biden also signed off on canceling the Keystone XL pipeline. Indigenous front line groups in both the US and Canada have protested the controversial pipeline that transverses through indigenous territories, and they assert, tramples their rights.
Environmentalists have also called for the cancelation of the project, arguing that it would have devastating environmental consequences, such as river pollution should it go ahead.
"Indigenous communities in extraction zones should not be forced to choose between their cultural survival and their health and basic needs. Governments of both the United States and Canada must do more," Eriel Deranger, executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, said.
"The impacts of this crisis are already being felt by Indigenous communities and further exacerbated by the global pandemic. It is not the time for half measures and false promises but for climate justice," she noted.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya